this was our last day in jerusalem. it was pretty sad to leave. we’ve ended up spending 8 days here, which is longer than we’ve spent in almost any other city on this trip, and we’ve really gotten used to being here. but oh well, we just gotta move on. after visitng the western wall one more time, and paying an insane amount (45$!!) for an guidebook to india (it’s huge and ways a ton), we caught a bus to eilat, a city in the southern tip of israel. despite the difficulty of our border crossing to get into israel, getting out was quite painless and we were across in jordan in practically no time at all (although we did still get some questions about our syrian stamps). we stayed the night in a small town called aqabba, and went out to chinese food for dinner w/ these australians that we met at the border. man, i really miss chinese food!
the first thing we noticed after coming into jordan was that everyone was so friendly to us. everyone kept telling us “welcome! welcome!” and people were all super nice. that’s definitely been a pattern w/ people here in the middle east. the only place wer’re really planning on visiting here is Petra, and we caught an early minibus there. halfway there, the minibus pulled over near a mosque, and almost everyone on board piled out to go pray. it was the friday afternoon prayers, which are the most important ones.
we ended up being stopped there for almost half an hour, but i really didnt mind. actually, i think it’s so cool that these people believe so much in their religion that they are willing to completely stop what they are doing because they need to pray. religion is such an important part of their lives that bus schedules are altered at whim, and no one on the minibus complained a bit. things are sooo different here than they are back home. that’s what i love about traveling… that you get to get at least a little insight into the way other people live and what makes them tick. i’m so constantly curious about these foreign people with their foreign religion and foreign ways of life. the veiled women and the nomadic bedouins, the friendliness and openness of the people, the different traditions.. i just want to learn absolutely everything i can about them and figure them out. and yet, it’s all so impossible. it’s as if someone dumped a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle in front of you and you tried to put it together in 10 minutes. sure, you could look at the individual pieces and in a few spots you could even fit some pieces together, but there’s no way you could get the whole picture in such a short time. and just like the puzzle, where you usually concentrate on the outside edge first, and leave the confusing center for last, here too you usually only can grasp the outside and whats on the surface of the people and it take much more time to actually get to the heart and center of things…..